Monday, August 6, 2012

Mama's Got a Plan and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.


Online relationships can be harder to navigate sometimes, but then there are other times where they are just easy and fun and so blessed by God!  I have found this kind of relationship with my friend, Erin Bishop.  She is graciously sharing her heart with us today and also providing ONE FREE SDG RETREAT REGISTRATION!  After Erin's post, be sure to read below for details on how to Bring A Friend Free!

Meet Erin.
I’m so honored that Jen invited me to be her guest today.  I’ll be sharing about my ministry the Whatever Girls.  There were many other things I could have shared about today, but I just love telling people about how God is using my past to better my daughter’s future.  How he restored my brokenness by giving it a new name:  purpose.


Three years ago my daughter was a few months away from starting middle school and I was concerned about what the next several years would hold for her.  My teen years were less than stellar.  I was a painfully shy – your textbook introvert. I never really felt a part of any one group.  The middle school I had been hearing about was a lot different than the one I remember going to.  My middle school had some smoking, drinking and probably drugs.  There was hand holding in the halls and couples danced to INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” at the after school dance.  But I don’t remember hearing about sex at my middle school.  There was talk of sex at my daughter’s new school.  12, 13 and 14 year old kids, many of whom probably still watch Saturday morning cartoons, drink chocolate milk and have the crust cut off their sandwiches were having sex - even on school property.    

If I had my choice I would have locked my daughter in a Rapunzel type tower until her true love showed up to ride her off into the sunset, but that didn’t pan out.  Fortunately, another option presented itself.  Since she was a baby we have been intentional about loving her and teaching her right from wrong.  I knew that the lessons she had learned over the years had stuck, but our job as her parents was far from over.  A big, God-sized plan- a dream, actually, began to grow that spring and a few weeks before school started the Whatever Girls ministry launched.

The Whatever Girls, a life group for teen girls and their moms, was the alternative to hiding my daughter from society.  A group of moms and teen girls gathered over ice cream sundaes in my living room on a hot August night and we talked about the impending teen years and my vision for the Whatever Girls ministry as we sampled different ice cream and topping combinations. 

In between bites of ice cream the girls shared their fears.  Getting lost in between classes, not knowing how to open their lockers, getting locked in their lockers by upperclassmen, not having classes with any of their friends, and having to shower in front of others after gym class were some of their top concerns.  In contrast, the moms were worried about the temptations and pressure our girls were going to be exposed to and how we could help equip them for battle.

I shared Ecclesiastes 4:12, which had inspired the heart of the group. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  What if we’re not alone in this, I asked them.  What would it look like if we took a stand against all that would decay the values and truths we have instilled in our girls, together?  What if instead of feeling alone because they choose not to drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex, our girls were bright lights in the fog?  Like Jesus said, we will have troubles in this world.  But we are to take heart because He overcame the world, and so shall we.  That night we linked arms and have since invited others to expand our circle.  Over the past two years we’ve gathered at least twice a month to laugh, cry, debate, discuss, pray and worship. 

The mission of the Whatever Girls is to “empower girls to choose God’s best for their lives by exemplifying the pillars of Philippians 4:8 (whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things).  To empower is to be intentional.  As parents and mentors we are influencers who can and must provide opportunities for our girls to get to know and have a relationship with Jesus and learn about God’s plan for their life.  I want girls to fall in love with the plan that God has for them so that the things of the world would shatter at their feet like fake crystal.  My dream is that God would raise up a whole generation of teen girls who stand shoulder to shoulder arms linked for Him believing His Word and clinging to His promises.

I should let you know that there have been bumps along the way.  Fear, doubt, insecurity, mama kitty claws, drama, and days where I doubt God really called me to start this ministry because I feel so incapable and unworthy to be used by Him.  And then I remember.  He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
                                                                                                  
Will you link arms with us?  Will you take a stand for a teen girl in your life and journey with her down the path that leads to the narrow gate where glory awaits? 

I want to invite you to visit our internet community often.  We’re doing some remodeling right now, but it won’t take long and we’d love for you to keep checking back on our progress.  We’re working on some great resources like how to start your own girl’s group, free activities you can do with your teen, links to our friends who inspire us and lots more.  We’re also starting up columns for teens and moms and we’ll be looking for contributing authors. You’ll want to stay tuned so you don’t miss a thing!

You can find us at our website, our Facebook page, on Twitter and via email

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Okay -- drumroll, please.  Due to the Lord's favor and Erin's generosity, we have a fun little contest happening here at Finding Heaven!  This is a gift from the Whatever Girls because they believe that the heart of the SDG retreat aligns with being intentional and empowering women to choose God's best for their lives.  In order to Bring A Friend Free, all you have to do is:

1.  Make a commitment to attend the SDG retreat (October 5-7, 2012 in Austin, TX) by registering and paying your $99 registration fee via PayPal.  To register, click here.

2.  Leave a comment on this post telling us who you would like to bring and why.

One person will be selected randomly next Sunday, August 12th.  This means you have ONE WEEK to pray, think, and act on this!  I can't wait!!  Need more details about the retreat?  Click here.

Note:  The registration fee includes meals, but does not include hotel stay.  Please check here for details.  Have questions?  Email me at jenfergie2000@me.com


38 comments :

  1. Love Erin that you took the intiative to do this. I've taken over the older girls from our Church's girls group and will be doing a study of Esther with them. I'm so excited and love the education I'll be getting from these girls for my own daughter.

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    1. Michelle, thank you! I love that God has called me to this. Your girl group will love that study. And yes, what a great way to prepare for working with your own daughter. I'm seeing (and experiencing) that the sooner we engage them with intentional studies and so on, they really benefit.

      See you on FB, friend :)

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  2. I really, really want the Whatever Girls to spread...all over the world. Moms and their daughters getting together and talking and sharing and building a strong relationship does my heart so good. Love what you are doing dear Erin. :)

    Sigh...one day I shall attend a conference and meet my favorite bloggers face to face. ;)

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    1. Christy, I love you to pieces. You are such a dear friend. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement.

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  3. Love seeing your lovely face here, friend! And you know how much I love The Whatever Girls! Heart Sisters form in the early years and won't if they don't know HOW. Thank you, sweet sister, for obeying His call.

    Natalie Snapp

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    1. Natalie, thank you so much for believing in this ministry, epecially on the days I doubt I've really been called. Yes, they need to become heart sisters at an early age. Love you ♥

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  4. Erin, so glad to meet you and know about your ministry! I will be watching and learning because my little girl is almost 3. Thank you for inspiring us all. I know it's hard work. May the Lord bless and keep you.

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    1. Jenny, thanks so much, it's great to meet you, too. I think we'll be branching out to some new age groups, so please stay tuned. I definitely want to encourage you to start young with your daughter. She'll have the benefit of an earlier foundation and exposure to God's amazing plan for her life. (I'm sure you're already doing amazing things with her!)

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  5. Erin, I love this:"He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called." Thank you for following God's call. Off to check out your site. Thank you, Jen, for hosting :)

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    1. Dolly, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I have to keep reminding myself that He qualifies the called. And, there's evidence of it in the Bible, so I know He can use me, too. Thanks in advance for visiting my site.

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  6. Would love to go on your retreat but Austin is really far away! :^) I love this line: "I want girls to fall in love with the plan that God has for them so that the things of the world would shatter at their feet like fake crystal." Amen and amen! My favorite quote especially when I was single was, "God gives His very best to those who leave the choice to Him." Patsy from
    HeARTworks and
    papemelroti

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Patsy, and for sharing your quote, "God gives His very best to those who leave the choice to Him."
      I love that, and I believe it!

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  7. This ministry makes me smile. My daughter begged me to start a Bible study for her and her friends when she was 10. She turned twelve over this past weekend and we're still going strong. They're crazy for Jesus, hungry for His word, and they sock my life with JOY. I've often asked God to grow these girls together so they will be able to forge those teen years with cords of purity and grace. Erin, I LOVE what you're doing. Keep at it! I'm praying for you- and just bookmarked your site, too. Thanks for being available to be "qualified" :)

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    1. Alicia, don't you just love that indescribable feeling when witnessing your own children loving and worshipping God? What a gift.

      I love your prayer about the cord of purity and grace. What a beautiful vision, and I believe He will honor it. I believe that our girls are and will remain set apart for His special plans. Let's stay in touch, would love to hear more about your journey :)

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  8. What a beautiful ministry you have! As the mother of four girls myself it truly touches my heart that you could make such a difference in the lives of God's daughters. Two of my daughters are already grown (21 and 19) but I do have an almost 16 and almost 6 to raise still and I know the world they live in is different, even to the one my first two girls grew up in. I will definitely be checking out your website. God bless you and your ministry!

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    1. Lisa Maria, Thank you so much for reading and your words of encouragement! It amazes me how rapidly things change in the culture our kids grow up in. I look forward to connecting with you again :)

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  9. Erin - I am so inspired by your determined spirit. I have boys, not girls, and my oldest is going into kindergarten this year, not middle school. Still, I share many of these same fears - what will he be exposed to and how will things change now that I'm sending him someplace other than home and church? I would have rolled my eyes at that thought until I am now facing it myself. Your point about "we are not in this alone" is powerful. I have a tendency to draw inward at times, but what I really need to do is reach out and get active. Thank you!

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    1. Courtney, I have a son, too, and I would love it if more moms and dads would step up and be the parents their kids need because when our sons go to school or are even just eating a Happy Meal at McDonalds they are sponges. I want, as I'm sure you do, my son to grow into an honorable, godly man who finds a godly and honorable woman to marry. Many of my girl friends with daughters and I joke about arranging marriages because we know that our kids will get a good spouse. I don't buy into the "it takes a village" mentality, but I believe there is something to be said about reaching out and discipleship in this area. Titus 2 :)

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  10. You are an inspiration! Like Dolly, these words jumped off the page at me: "He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called."
    My husband and I have been asked to pray about being one of the couples to help lead our teen youth group this year. While I came to the belief yesterday that we need to step out of our comfort zone with this, my husband is just not sure he is qualified or has the time, and has not yet heard an answer. When I read that comment, I sent it to him at work. It spoke volumes to me.

    I will be following your group and looking forward to the inspiration and encouragement!

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    1. Kim, my husband and I co-lead the high school group at church with our dear friends. We’ve been doing it for a few years now. But, in the beginning my husband wasn’t sure he was qualified, either. He thought he didn’t know enough about the Bible or maybe couldn’t even relate to the kids. We tend to look at ministry positions like job advertisements in the paper. If we don’t have the degree or experience we don’t apply for the job. But it’s the opposite with God. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6. Fast forward to now. We call him the “kid whisperer”. All the boys flock to him because my husband just talks to them and they love it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a major Star Wars and video game fan, which most of these boys can relate to. I’ve made it too hard in the past, and really all we need to do is listen to them and care about them. God will do the rest. Please keep me posted, I’d love to hear how things turn out. And thank you for reading and for your sweet words.

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  11. What a beautiful ministry! Like Moses, when God calls us to do something big for Him, He guides us each step of the way.

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  12. Erin, what a brave, courageous Mother you are. I'm over at (in)courage today talking about how I started a group for moms years ago and the way that impacted so many lives over the years . . so this really resonates with me. And my girl is a teen now so I look forward to visiting Whatever Girls. So pleased to meet you here.

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    1. Shelly, thank you!! I really enjoyed your post over at (in)courage and hearing about the thoughts and doubts you had, but persevered. Let's stay in touch :)

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  13. I can't attend the retreat because it's Fall Break here but Erin I want you to know how much I identified with and am thankful for your ministry. I have daughters 16, 13, 6 and 5 and have seen how hard the teen years are for girls.

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    1. Shannon, thank you for sharing. The teen years are so very hard. I've seen how it gets hard for girls earlier than ever before. I sense that God will be using this ministry to reach an even younger group of girls. Let's stay in touch; I'm right there with you :)

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  14. Praise God for sisters in Christ, for those who are our mentors and those we can mentor. Thanks for the great post & for hosting the linkup, & God bless,
    Laurie

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. It is such a blessing to serve God alonside such amazing sisters :)

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  15. What an inspiring and empowering idea. Ooh, I'm glad you have a website to keep us engaged and to offer some insights. Thank you for sharing!

    And Jen, I love the new blog look...very airy and spacious!

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    1. Theresa, thank you so much. Yes, I would love, love, love to have you visit often and share your ideas. There is strength in numbers for sure. Let's stay in touch!

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  16. I LOVE your ministry, Erin, and I can't wait to see your remodel. And how to start a group here - I'm going to seriously pray about that, because just this morning I was asking God for something for my girl now that she is too old for Gems in our area. Love you!

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  17. Andrea, I would LOVE to see you start up a group for your girls. I would probably need to come help you launch, don't you think?
    Joining you in prayer and believing God will honor the desires of your heart for what's best for your girls. Love you friend :)

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  18. Ohhhh, man. Erin, Jen always tells me how much I would like you...and guess what, I do!

    I have less than three minutes before I have to do my hair (translation: put it in a ponytail) and head to work. I must scroll up and see what is happening with this little give-away.

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    1. Amy, thank you so much! I hear you on the ponytail. It's my default hairstyle :) Looking forward to getting to know you more.

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  19. What a wonderful community the Whatever Girls is for your daughters! My Junior High School was highly influential and somewhat like what your daughter is experiencing, but going to church regularly helped keep me in line. I pray for the girls in your group to continue in their faith and see just how awesome their moms are for loving and caring so much for them.

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  20. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing about your experience. I've found doing things in a community setting can often be the best for kids. Especially when they know they aren't alone.

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